§ On the motion for going into a committee on this bill,
§ Mr. Barham
opposed the Speaker's leaving the chair, on the ground that the House was proceeding without any principle being settled. It was a contradiction in terms to say that a principle could not be defined. In the case of Grampound it was clear, but here no facts had been established; and if the House went into the committee, it would run the risk of exposing itself to a decision which it might at some future time have great reason to regret.
§ Sir C. Hawkins
, member for Penryn, in a tone of voice quite inaudible in the gallery, continued for some time to read a speech, till he was called to order by
, who stated that the course which the hon. baronet was pursuing, was contrary to the orders of the House. The utmost extent to which the House carried their indulgence, was to allow members to refresh their memories occasionally by a recurrence to notes.
§ Mr. Manning
urged, that no parliamentary ground had been laid for the bill: no resolution of the committee or special report was before the House; and the hon. mover had not condescended to give any reason for the measure he had introduced.
Sir C. Burrell
said, that the House having allowed the Bill to proceed thus far, were in justice bound to hear evidence in support of it. If the witnesses did not prove corrupt practices, then the bill would fall to the ground; but if they substantiated these corrupt practices, there would be good ground for extending the franchise.
§ Mr. Denison
said, the committee did 333 not proceed at all on any inquiry into the practices of 1807. but confined themselves to what took place at the last election. All the cases of bribery were proved against the sitting member. They could not proceed against the petitioner, as there was a link wanting in the chain of evidence; but this was only carried by the casting vote of the chairman. But since that time a grand jury had found bills for perjury against five of the witnesses.
Mr. C. Hervey
said, the only question which was decided by the casting vote of the chairman was, whether counsel should be heard on a point which had already been decided by the committee. In justice to the committee he had to state, that what related to the bribery being brought home to the sitting member was carried unanimously; but the hon. gentleman was mistaken if he supposed the bribery was brought home to the petitioner.
§ Mr. Denison
referred to certain handbills which were wanting, and which would have completed the chain.
§ Mr. Holford
contended, that the hon. member had mistaken the point about the hand-bills; two cases only were attempted against the petitioner, and neither of them were made out.
The House having resolved itself into a committee, Mr. Toy was called in and examined by sir C. Burrell. He stated that he was in the chair at a meeting of the electors of Penryn, on the 25th May, 1818, for the purpose of procuring the return of Mr. Swann, which was held at the sign of the Thirteen Balls. He had drawn up a hand-bill from personal hostility to Mr. Swann, and the meeting was called in consequence of it. At the meeting he did all he could to prejudice the electors generally against Mr. Swann. He had not a copy of the hand-bill. Witness, on being asked if he could state the substance of it, said, that some of the expressions which he recollected were as follow:—"The prating hero will soon arrive, assisted by dissimulation and all his usual arts, to distribute amongst the electors his fish, his peppermint, and his two-penny," This was an allusion to Mr. Swann's practice of selling the two former articles, and of scattering shillings in public-houses for the purchase of the latter. In another part, the electors were assured, that if they returned Mr. Swann, they might rely on his afterwards treating them with the same arrogance with which he had once addressed them, when he told 334 them to go to h—ll and be d——Do you also recollect this expression in the handbill? "If your choice be governed only by interest, you ought not to return that man," meaning Mr. Swann?—Yes, I do. Did it also contain the following? "You know he had neither the inclination nor the ability to gratify you for your favours, and upon your principles what stronger objection can exist against them than this?—Yes, I recollect that expression.—Does your memory extend to these observations also? "Has he ever given any one of you a breakfast, or realized a single expectation that you were taught to entertain? We are disposed to look back with pleasure to those good old times when every man was provided with a breakfast, the only advantage to which we aspire in the exercise of our elective franchise. But be assured, that a man after your own heart will offer himself in due season."—The witness admitted that this passage did occur in the composition of the hand-bill.—Here Mr. V. Blake desired that the witness might withdraw, and objected, that this course of proceeding was not consistent with the course of proceeding in courts of law, and was analagous to the practice of putting leading questions. Mr. Serjeant Onslow, Mr. Wynn, and sir C. Burrell, thought the course of proceeding proper, as there was no certainty that by any other course a knowledge of the contents of the handbill could be attained. Mr. Courtenay and Mr. Holford thought other means of obtaining the information should be first tried. The objection was over ruled by the House, and the witness was again called in.—Sir C. Burrell then continued his examination. He asked whether these words were in the hand-bill—"Be assured that a man after your own heart will soon arrive, one of your own rich neighbours, who will liberally recompense his friends, whether he is successful Or not."?—The witness had written this address, and two others, without consulting any other person. In one of these was the following observation:—"The time of victory is near, when your claims so long neglected shall be established, and when the ancient but almost obsolete gratification of 24Lbs. for every plumper shall be restored."—Why were the figures 24 surmounted with the letters lbs. as though they applied to a quantity of butcher's meat, instead of being preceded by the letter L. as signifying pounds sterling?—In order that no 335 advantage might be taken of them. The intention, I believe, was generally understood.—The witness was then examined at length, respecting the meeting of electors, at which he presided as chairman on the 27th of May, but no fact of material importance was elicited. On being questioned as to the source of the dissatisfaction with Mr. Swann, which he had described as prevailing amongst the electors, he stated it to arise from his not having paid the bills given at the preceding election; and that, although the respectable electors had not been engaged in any corrupt transactions with him, they did not approve of his not performing his engagements, and many of them withheld their support when he was last a candidate.—Sir C. Burrell put several questions with the view of proving, that the disapprobation expressed of Mr. Swann's parliamentary conduct in the resolutions which were printed and circulated in Penryn, was but a mere blind; the real ground of disapprobation being, that Mr. Swann had not given a public breakfast—that was, 24l. to each elector. The first meeting at which these resolutions had been passed was on the 25th of May. At a second meeting on the 1st of June, Mr. Anderdon was present. The general object of that meeting was, to praise Anderdon, and to blame Swann.—Mr. F. Douglas asked several questions respecting conversations with Anderdon.—Mr. Williams examined him as to Mr. Swann's having employed many in sending up stones from a quarry at Penryn to London, and pleaded such employment as an equivalent for the usual breakfast. It was a generally-received opinion at Penryn, that employment at the granite quarries was equivalent to a breakfast, or 24l. The witness seemed to deny that he had put the question at one of the public meetings, whether Mr. Swann would pay 24l. There had been a meeting to invite sir Masseh Lopes, but the witness had not been present at it. Mr. Swann had not given a breakfast at the two last elections. That might have been the cause of inviting sir Masseh Lopes.—The witness being asked whether, since his arrival in London, he had consulted with various persons on the line of evidence he ought to pursue to prevent the borough of Penryn from being thrown open, answered, that he had conversed with several people on the subject, but had not agreed to alter his evidence in conse-†336 quence. Being pressed with this question in different shape's, he answered equally indefinitely. He had heard it mentioned in society that the evidence of particular witnesses would go to prevent the borough from being thrown open, and he mentioned the names of some of them. He allowed that two-thirds of the electors had received bribes. The lower orders expected a breakfast, which meant a bribe, for at that breakfast the bribes were distributed. They had endeavoured to influence the meeting at which he presided during the election against Mr. Swann.—Joseph Sewell was called in and examined, first by sir C. Burrel). He denied that he had conversed about the evidence he was to give. He gave his interest against Mr. Swann at the last election, because Mr. Swann had not paid his bills on former occasions. He had never heard the electors complain of Mr. Swann's not giving breakfasts, but of not paying his bills. He knew what was generally understood by an election breakfast at Penryn; it meant 24l.—The examination of the witness was continued by several other members. Witness stated, that his connexion with Mr. Anderdon arose from his having been employed formerly by Mr. Anderdon's father, to purchase the borough in Cornwall for him. He did not think that the wealth of a candidate would have any effect in the borough of Penryn. When he brought down Mr. Anderdon, he received a letter from the electors, stating the cause of their dissatisfaction with Mr. Swann. He had lost that letter. He did not know that any voter at Penryn had been bribed, or had taken a breakfast, either in 1806, 1807, or 1812. Since his arrival in London, he has had no conversation with Mr. Anderdon about the effect of his evidence as to the opening of the borough. He had asked Mr. Wingfield, and also the solicitor for Mr. Anderdon, if he was bound to give evidence that would implicate himself; but he had not asked those persons how far he was implicated by being an agent. He had written many letters to Mr. Swann on the subject of the election; he might have recommended the giving of breakfasts, but he had no recollection of having so advised him. Anderdon had said, that even if the election were lost, he was not to bribe, and he could say on his conscience that he had not bribed for Mr. Anderdon. He had no recollection of having said, that he would support the 337 devil himself against Mr. Swann; but he could not answer for what a man might say in a moment of passion. He was offended at Mr. Swann, because that gentleman had prosecuted him for 200l., and had commenced proceedings against his daughter.
was next called in and examined. His evidence tended to prove, that previous to the year 1807 there had been an organized system of bribery and corruption in the borough, but that during the last ten years it had most materially diminished. He had never known the bribery oath put to the electors except in 1802. The demand of it at that time caused no very great sensation. Being asked to re-consider his answer, he replied, that he supposed himself to know what the examiner alluded to; it was the circumstance that the commissioner, appointed to administer the bribery oath to the electors, administered the oath of the returning officer to them, instead of the proper oath against bribery and corruption.
§ The chairman then reported progress, and asked leave to sit again.